Background: Physical training is a well-known complementary treatment for chronic heart failure (CHF); however, many aspects require further studies. One of them is the impact on remodeling of the left ventricle (LV). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of 6 months of training on LV, exercise capacity and safety issues in patients with ischemic CHF.
Methods: Fifty patients (mean age 60.1+/-9.2 years) with ischemic CHF, New York Heart Association (NYHA) classification class II and III and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) <or=35% were randomized into groups: undergoing 6-month training (25 patients) and not trained (25 patients). In both groups at baseline and at 6 months a cardiopulmonary exercise test and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with evaluation of LV were performed. Training was limited by the achievement of 80% of the predicted heart rate at VO2peak achieved at the baseline cardiopulmonary exercise test.
Results: All patients completed the 6-month observation. No serious adverse events were found in either group. Exercise capacity improved only in the trained group (VO2peak increased by 31%). At 6 months in the trained group there was a tendency towards an improvement in some LV parameters: ejection fraction, end-diastolic volume and wall motion score index (WMSI), whereas an opposite trend was seen in the controls (P<0.05, P<0.05 and P<0.01 for comparison of LVEFs, end-diastolic volumes and WMSIs, respectively).
Conclusions: Six-month training in ischemic CHF patients is a safe modality. Training improves exercise capacity. There was no negative impact on LV morphology, and a trend towards improvement of functional parameters on MRI may suggest an anti-remodeling effect of training in patients with ischemic CHF.